GIS Builds ‘Bird’s Eye View’ Of Adelaide Airport Safety

December 19, 2011 -- Adelaide’s award-winning airport has taken its safety standards to new heights, with the introduction of cutting-edge mapping technology that improves airport management, including the prevention of collisions between planes and birds.

Adelaide Airport Limited’s (AAL) commitment to safety is well-documented – it has twice been voted Capital City Airport of the Year by the Australian Airports Association, including once for its wildlife hazard management program, which proactively profiles birds and manages the airport environs to prevent bird strikes.

AAL has now partnered with the country’s leading location intelligence specialists Esri Australia to integrate world-leading Geographic Information System (GIS) technology into their wildlife hazard management program.

The GIS brings together more than 20 years of bird census and bird strike data to generate interactive, real-time maps of bird congregation over the airport site.

Esri Australia Professional Services Manager in Adelaide Andrew Fellows said the GIS created sophisticated digital maps of the airport that highlighted bird behaviour– enabling AAL to better plan avian management strategies.

“According to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, most bird strikes in Australia occur within five kilometres of airports,” Mr Fellows said.

“By mapping species, distribution and population sizes and their relation to certain locations, airport staff can identify how, when and why birds congregate in certain places and take appropriate action to discourage them from frequenting these areas.

“Adelaide Airport’s bird mapping GIS is an Australian-first and has set a benchmark for aviation safety around the country.”

AAL Environment Officer Renae Eden said Esri Australia’s GIS technology equips staff with a complete ‘bird’s-eye view’ of the situation, ensuring the airport can continue to deliver efficient and safe flight management.

“Before we introduced GIS, bird census and bird strike reporting involved lots of paperwork and paper-based maps,” Ms Eden said.

“Having to look through all of our data and compare it with the maps was a very time-consuming process and didn’t provide us with a real-time map of what was actually occurring across the airport as far as bird populations and bird strikes were concerned.

“Now, once we enter the data in the GIS, we can produce real-time maps, which make it easier to model trending and examine where bird populations have moved over subsequent seasons.

“The bird mapping tool is unprecedented, enabling us to be proactive rather than reactive, and mitigate hazards before they can create an incident.

“We also use the GIS to map stormwater and groundwater monitoring points, fuel spill kit locations, and tenant risk profiling, for example..

“Like with the bird data, the GIS enables us to overlay this data on to maps and identify patterns in the information.

Ms Eden said that using the GIS had been so successful, the airport was working towards expanding the GIS beyond managing wildlife.

“For example, we’d like to get to the point where if the property department wants to develop a particular area, they can view the map and see information regarding contamination issues, or biodiversity or heritage values on the site.

“This is a very exciting time for the airport because we can see the potential of this technology to enhance decision-making in nearly every facet of our business.”

Mr Fellows said the project adds a new dimension to Esri Australia’s growing commercial airport portfolio.

“To date our experience with airports has been focused on asset management and planning and development, but the project with AAL is a first of its kind.

“I believe the team at AAL has not only set a new benchmark for the use of GIS in airport safety practices, it has also set the benchmark for environment and wildlife management.”

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